Another study that confuses the public and tells us nothing except that we need better research.
This study included over 4000 Dutch heart attack patients between the ages of 60 and 80. The majority of participants were men. These patients had already experienced a heart attack within the last decade which put them at high risk for another cardiac event. These men and women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and were at high risk for blood clots. They were also taking blood pressure medications, anti-clotting drugs and statins.
So they took these people at high risk for heart disease and gave them margarine mixed with a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Why would you do that? It’s a good fat mixed with a bad fat!
Even though we’ve heard bad things about butter, its nothing compared to margarine. Margarine is very high in trans-fatty acids which not only raises total cholesterol, LDL, and lowers the protective cholesterol (HDL), but also raises the risk of cancer, decreases the immune response and insulin response.
Trans-fats are typically hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a chemical preservative technique, and during the process of hydrogenation, liquid fats are infused with hydrogen atoms to make them semi-solid at room temperature. Unfortunately, the process produces trans-fatty acids, often in large amounts.
There are numerous studies showing that diets high (up to 60%) in omega-3 fatty acids had the lowest rates of heart disease. The amount of omega-3 fatty acids used in the study is negligible. One needs a minimum of 2000-3000 mg of EPA/DHA to obtain any health benefits. These are just a few of the major studies linking the reduced risk of heart disease with essential fatty acids:
The DART trial demonstrated a 29 percent reduced mortality among 1015 men that consumed two portions of oily fish per week compared with those who did not consume oily fish.
The GISSI-Prevenzione trial showed supplementation of 850 mg per day of EPA/ DHA as purified ethyl esters reduced risk of death, nonfatal heart attack or myocardial infarction, and stroke among 11,323 patients, who experienced a recent heart attack, during a 3.5-year follow-up. The risk of sudden cardiac death was reduced by 45 percent among the participants using the supplements.
This study cannot make a general conclusion that Omega-3 fatty acids do not reduce the risk of additional cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction or heart attack. So many questions remain to be answered on the other variables of the study, such as the subjects’ diet, whether they were obese, and their activity level as well as genetics. The study involved primarily Dutch men, so are these results applicable to American men (and some women)?
As for me, the studies on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids far outweigh avoiding these foods or supplements. So I’ll stay on these supplements for now.